Impact through collaboration: Health inequalities and the migrant population
In October 2019 the Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland (ADRC NI), partner of ADR Northern Ireland, collaborated with Stronger Together, a network for racial equality in Northern Ireland, to deliver a policy forum which brought together academic researchers, policymakers, service providers and community organisations to share best practice and evidence in the fields of health and racial inequality.
This was an opportunity to showcase several of ADRC NI’s research programmes that impact on health inequalities and the migrant population in Northern Ireland, including mental health and psychotropic drug use, access to orthodontic services, and uptake of disability benefits among migrants. There were presenters, panellists and participants from King's College London, Cairde (a public health organisation from the Republic of Ireland), Equality Commission Northern Ireland (ECNI), Belfast City Council, Health and Social Care NI, the Public Health Agency, the Northern Ireland Council for Racial Equality (NICRE), and the British Red Cross.
ADRC NI’s unique approach centres engagement work with key stakeholders, understanding that not all knowledge is academic or generated within a university setting. While there is a necessary focus on excellence in independent academic research relevant to policymakers and government and the potential this has to impact on policy and service delivery, there is a need to get under the skin of data to understand the societal issues that it illustrates. ADRC NI does this by building engagement into our research from the beginning, weaving alternative viewpoints into the research design so the questions that emerge are dynamic and responsive to communities, policymakers, government and service delivery.
In this case, partnering with Stronger Together facilitated new relationships with key organisations, particularly the ECNI and the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA). ECNI has indicated that in future they will build ADRC NI findings and statistics into their equality monitoring and reporting. A research brief from the study on migrants and mental health was prepared for NILGA, who brought it to a coordinating group including the UK Home Office with the purpose of developing new protocols for vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers in Northern Ireland.
Engaging directly with stakeholders and folding their expertise into data-driven research not only adds value to research but creates clear pathways to impact. As the valuable insights gained from data-driven research are made clear, these experts, who have been given a genuine seat at the table, become advocates for our approach. They help not only to stabilise public opinion around data usage, but to demonstrate to government the viability of such research and engagement in developing better policy and better services, that truly support marginalised communities.
Access the full report on migrants and psychotropic drug use through the International Journal of Mental Health Systems website.
Visit the blog for more information about the ADR Northern Ireland migrant health project.